Women’s Tennis: Wildcats look for leadership in 3 returning seniors


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Maddie Lipp looks at the court. The senior will hope to lead the Wildcats to a successful home tournament this weekend.

Calvin Alexander, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

With five returning players, a top-5 doubles team and a strong performance just two weeks ago in Durham, North Carolina, Northwestern looks poised for success this season.

Last year the Wildcats finished third in the Big Ten behind only No. 3 Ohio State and No. 11 Michigan. They also had an impressive showing in the NCAA Tournament, beating No. 18 Mississippi State before falling in the second round to No. 8 Georgia Tech.

This year the Cats will look for leadership from their three returning seniors — Alex Chatt, Maddie Lipp and Erin Larner. Larner sits at No. 40 in the preseason singles rankings, and with good reason. She played almost exclusively at No. 1 singles last season and recorded only one loss in Big Ten play. Larner also got a win against the eventual national champion Brienne Minor of Michigan.

Chatt and Lipp won 37 combined singles matches last year, but they are even more deadly on the doubles court together. They come into this season as the No. 5 ranked doubles team in the nation.

“Erin, Maddie and I are all striving to be All-American this year,” Chatt said. “That is the ultimate goal. It’s our last year.”

Those three players, along with junior Rheeya Doshi, traveled to North Carolina from Sept. 15-17 to compete in the Duke Invitational. While there, all four players went undefeated in doubles and each player also won at least one singles match.

Doshi had an impressive sophomore year, which included two victories against top-40 doubles teams.

Another junior who will play a key role for NU is Lee Or, who occupied the No. 4 singles spot last season. In that spot, she posted 16 wins in doubles and 17 in singles — one of those coming over a top-50 opponent, Oklahoma State’s Vladica Babic.

“I’m really impressed with the work Lee and Rheeya did this summer,” coach Claire Pollard said.

Pollard said she looks forward to working with three new players on the team: Caroline Pozo, Inci Ogut and Julie Byrne. Pozo is a freshman from St. Louis who did not lose a set of high school tennis after her freshman year. Ogut is a freshman from Turkey who won national championships in three separate age groups. And Byrne is a sophomore from Ireland who is transferring from Oklahoma. She finished her freshman season with an 8-5 record in doubles in a tough Big 12.

Pollard said the new players will make a significant impact, as will new assistant coach Julian Tejada. He has worked with top women’s professionals including Martina Hingis and Victoria Azarenka as well as at top collegiate programs like Michigan.

Pollard and Larner both stressed the importance of the fall season. They said it will provide great opportunities to gain experience and keep players confident for the coming year.

“That is key to go into the regular season with a good ranking,” Larner said. “I am more focused on that and doing well in the fall tournaments and also just overall trying to get better every single day.”

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